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Lissasalayaya

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  1. The Others are hate-filled monsters who genuinely want to destroy existence itself. I think that's going to be Martin's surprise twist with the Others, so to speak. People are expecting him to pull some kind of miraculous humanization of the Others at the end of the story. So the way he surprises an audience that's expecting that is to not do that. The interesting parts are in the how, why and the thematic meaning of such an ending. What I gather so far is that the Others are basically what emerges when a civilization betrays its traditions. In Westeros, the tradition was Old Gods. That tradition was betrayed when the First Men betrayed the pact, and when the Andals burned the weirwoods and instituted the Faith of the Seven along with chivalry and knighthood. So mankind lost its access to the magic that derived from the Old Gods tradition, which was mostly that the children of the forest used their magic to build giant castles and protect them with spells. So the "Game of Thrones" can fairly be interpreted as mankind losing its access to the power to build magic castles, which derives from their traditions, and then as a consequence being doomed to fight over the castles that remain. Because they can't make new ones. So when the Andals and Faith took over the continent, the story is showing that the magic of the Old Gods doesn't simply go away when that happens. It gets redirected into something evil. Why? Because the Old God values align with the reality of their world better than the Faith values do. So one lesson is that that's what happens when you go against reality itself. And that's what you're doing when you go against your oldest traditions. They're old for a reason, because they go deep to the roots of reality. Your tradition had a close relationship with reality, and that closeness remains even while you're betraying it and going against it. And the magic that made your civilization strong and functional then gets directed into something that hates you, hates your civilization, hates everything that you consider good including trees, babies, summer and even the frickin' sun. They want eternal night, darkness, cold and fear, all of which spell maximum suffering for normal healthy human beings. Because of the obviousness of what the Other want being so anti-human, the commentary about good and evil in a story where everybody is shown to be part good and part evil is, surprisingly, that there does in fact come a point when what a person wants is so completely anti-human that the battle against them is synonymous with a battle of good against evil. Maybe when people are taking human baby sacrificies, working toward eternal night and cold nad darkness, it's finally okay to say enough is enough, these people are evil and we need to band together and fucking kill them, because if we don't they're going to kill us and our children for every generation into eternity if nobody stops them.
  2. They may have a romance and may even get married. More surprising to most readers will be that they're not relatives.
  3. I think the scene where the direwolves attack Tyrion at Winterfell provides some insight into Tyrion's role in the story. Summer growls first. And Summer is the smartest. It reflects the subtleness of the hints in these early chapters that Tyrion is ultimately a villain, because he's spreading nihilism. But Summer is also the first one to be called off and obey it. So it shows a recognition in Bran and Summer that if I show you the best of me that maximizes the chance that the best in you will emerge. It means Tyrion can be pulled back from villainy at the last moment. But it's clear so far that for most of the story he's on the fence between loving or hating existence itself, and sliding toward the hate side as the story goes on.
  4. That's the coolest introduction to a religion ever! I choose the old gods. It has the closest relationship to reality. I think R'hllorism is equally or nearly as close to reality, but in a way that runs perpendicular to the truths of the old gods, placing the two traditions in neverending conflict that's reminiscent of the conflicts depicted in biblical stories like Cain and Abel and the Garden of Eden. Westeros is on the Abel programming and most of Essos is on the Cain programming. For example, I can see that the slaves that Tyrion encounters during his time as a slave are quite proud to belong to a rich and powerful master.
  5. It's difficult to pin down a list of mysteries because often the thing that makes a mystery a mystery is that it wasn't presented as a mystery, or it was presented as a different mystery. For Jon Arryn's murder mystery, the first solution offered explicitly by characters in the story is that the Lannisters did it. That solution ultimately comes from Lysa Arryn, because she's the one who sent the secret message to Catelyn. Catelyn told it to Ned and Ned carried that "knowledge" with him to King's Landing where the mystery does most of its unfolding for the reader. That solution sticks throughout all of AGOT, because Cersei Lannister murdering or orchestrating the murder of Jon Arryn makes sense in light of the illegitimacy of her children and Jon discovering that. That solution sticks throughout all of ACOK. And it sticks throughout much of ASOS until Lysa says to Petyr that she put the tears into Jon's wine like Petyr told her to do. Only then is the readership at large brought in on a deeper truth of the Jon Arryn murder mystery, years afterward. Petyr and Lysa did it. And their motivations had little to do with the illegitimacy of Cersei's children except to frame the Lannisters. Apparently, the motivation that was driving Jon's murder from the beginning was that Petyr wanted to be the Lord of the Eyrie and Vale. Even still, we're left with a strong sense that being the Lord of the Eyrie and Vale is not the deepest motivation in Petyr that drove Jon's murder and is perhaps driving all of Petyr's behavior in all regards. Undoubtedly, the "cause" of Jon Arryn's murder is rooted in Petyr's childhood at Riverrun, his unrequited love for Catelyn, his defeat by Brandon, Lysa's arranged marriage to Jon, Lysa's aborted child with Petyr, and the cultural practices of Westeros as a whole upon which all of those events sit. It bears asking myself, how are my feelings about Lannister characters shaped by my first impressions of them as antagonists in the Jon Arryn murder mystery? Have I properly updated my feelings about Jaime, Tyrion and Cersei to exonerate them of the crime of murdering Jon Arryn? Probably not. Have I properly separated my feelings about Lannisters that derive from the Jon Arryn murder from my feelings about Lannisters that derive from Bran's "fall", Bran's assassination, Cersei and Jaime's incest, Cersei's adultery, Jaime's kingslaying, Tyrion's whoring, et all? Not a chance. To what extent am I even capable of updating a first impression? The commentary of the reader is built right into the mystery's structure. 'You'll believe the first plausible sounding solution that presents itself to you, especially if it matches with your feelings about the characters, dilemmas and themes.' The metatextual warning, then, is about placing too much trust in one's feelings. Had I done a better job of preventing my feelings about Lannisters from influencing my investigation, I might have considered more seriously the possibility that the real murderer was the first person to point a finger at someone else, the very act that framed Jon Arryn's death for the reader as a mystery to begin with.
  6. The fans have always preferred Westeros to Essos. It's partly by design. I mean, the story does begin in Westeros, after all, and it spends most of its time there. And the story is written by a western man for a majorly western audience. The continents themselves, like most fantasy worlds, heavily draw from the shape of continents in the real world. There are two giant landmasses east and west, separated by a bunch of water in the middle. As in the real world, that configuration explains much of the cultural differences seen between eastern and western countries. The geological distance reduces cross-cultural interactions by making them more difficult, coslty, and, for most of history, impossible. More strange to me is the expectation that a majorly western audience of a western story by a western author would be as interested in the happenings of Essos as in those of Westeros. GRRM seems to be using that tendency in us to great effect. See how easy we label an entire region of people as evil beyond redemption or understanding based on cultural differences? It's a stark contrast to the individualist and context-sensitive way we tend to approach matters of right and wrong for Westerosi characters in Westeros.
  7. Valyria's role in the story seems to me to be something like... it's a fallen paradise full of cursed treasure. So the idea is that this place used to be the wealthiest, most advanced, sophisticated, high fantasy paradise that this world has ever seen in rememberable history. And because of that, it's full of treasures. The treasures are things that the world has mostly forgotten how to produce, like Valyrian steel swords, dragon horns, and towers that are so tall that they seem to have no end. People who visit Valyria never return, except potentially Euron who may or may not be lying. And except Aerea who did return but died a freakish death shortly after. So there's a question implied in there about whether or not *everybody* who has ever visited Valyria did not return. Aerea's return, however brief, gives the lie to that bit of mythology surrounding Valyria. And it seems a more grounded explanation for the origin of the mythology. If many people who visit Valyria don't return, and if many or most people who do return from Valyria don't live long enough to tell the tale or share the treasures of knowledge about what's in Valyria or what happened there, then Valyria would understandably retain this mythology despite it not being strictly true. Because it's useful to protect people, and then there's a correlation between people who are protected and people being alive, and then a correlation between people being alive and people being able to proliferate mythology. So contradictory mythology like "Valyria is a great place to visit" would tend to die out with the people who carry it, leaving the "stay away" mythology dominant. Valyria also seems to be rooted in asoiaf's version of the eastern-world tradition, as opposed to the western-world tradition. Valyrian society was steeped in blood magic, slavery, dragonology and even gene technology to such a level of advancement as to earn its people the characterization of playing god. Asoiaf's eastern-world tradition is said and shown to be much older than the western and its cities much grander in scale, which is noteworthy considering that many western cities are larger than life themselves. To contrast, western cultures have strong stigmas against magic and slavery. They see dragons more like a monster to be defeated than a power to be harnessed, partaking in mythologies of valiant dragonslayers like Serwyn of the Mirror Shield and looking upon Valyrians like Targaryens as something between exotic and strange. Mythologically speaking, maybe the idea with Valyria being full of cursed treasures and forbidden knowledge is that whatever value you think to extract from a fallen paradise, beware of it because it's forbidden fruit, being the products of the activities, values and customs that in some way or another brought their paradise to a catastrophic end. When I look at things that way, the uniqueness of Aerea's experience with Valyria seems to point me to a general idea of what happened to Aerea in Valyria. She's the only one in the story so far who has, with reasonable certainty, visited Valyria and returned alive. At the same time, she's the only one who, as far as we know, has suffered a death so horrific from visiting Valyria. Being boiled from the inside out by giant worms seems like a noteworthy contrast to Gerion's almost romantic status as a windblown teasure hunter who continues his hunt for Brightroar in imaginations the world over, and the tigers of Volantis whose ships merely disappeared into the mists. The implication with Aerea's situation, then, might be that her suffering is narratively proportionate to the significance of the forbidden knowledge she learned from her visit to Valyria. As to the reason Aerea was able to mount Balerion, the pattern of Balerion's riders seems to be that you only get to mount Balerion if when you attempt it you're genuinely content to die. So riding Balerion has some relationship with conquering the fear of death, with indifference to whether you took the bravery route or the suicidal route. That's why Aerea's story chokes me up sometimes.
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